By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – An alleged trigger-happy Deputy Suprintendent of Police, DSP, Mr Inagozie Godwin, who allegedly shot and killed Miss Anita Akapson, a niece to former Minister of Finance, Senator Nenadi Usman, in cold blood, was on Friday, docked before an Abuja High Court sitting at Zuba.
DSP Godwin, aged 36 , was in the criminal charge the Nigeria Police Force preferred against him, alleged to have shot Miss Akapson, 31, to death on October 13, at about 9:45pm at Katampe area of Abuja.
He was in the one-count charge, accused of committing culpable homicide contrary to section 22(3) of the penal code and punishable under section 22(4) of the same code.
Meantime, the Defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge, even as he begged the court to release him on bail pending the determination of the charge against him.
The defence lawyer, Mr. Paul Samson told the court that his client would be available to face his trial.
The application was opposed by the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Donatus Abah who requested for a date for commencement of the trial.
After he had heard from all the parties, Justice A. O Ebong, admitted the Defendant to bail in the sum of N50million with two sureties.
Justice Ebong said he was minded to grant the defendant bail because the police prosecutor failed to advance cogent reasons under the law why bail should not be granted to the DSP.
The court noted that the offence was a culpable homicide, not punishable by death, but carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Whereas the defence counsel relied on section 162 of ACJA to persuade the court to grant the accused bail, however, Justice Ebong stressed that the section applies to offences that carry not more than 3 years sentence.
Justice Ebong agreed with the defence counsel that an accused is pressumed innocent until proven otherwise.
Meantime, as part of the bail conditions, the court directed that two of the sureties must be serving public servants who should not be below the position of Directors.
The court stated that the sureties must be resident in their personal houses and must equally swear an affidavit of means.
Justice Ebong further ordered that the accused must not travel without leave of court, and must live within the jurisdiction of the court in order to attend trial.
In addition, the court ordered the defendant to deposit his international passport and other relevant travel documents to the registrar of the court.
More so, Justice Ebong stated that the identities and particulars of the sureties shall be verified by court authority.
Lastly, the court ordered that the accused be remanded in prison custody pending the perfection of the bail conditions.
The matter was subsequently adjourned till November 29 for trial.
However, a human rights activist and constitutional lawyer, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, on Friday, kicked against the bail granted the defendant by the court.
Ajulo accused the prosecutor of “displaying inherent conspiracy and a clear attempt to shield one of their own”.
According to Ajulo who represented Senator Unman’s family in the matter, “The issues canvassed and argued in the counter- affidavit of the prosecution were so watery, porous and riddled with incompetence that one can only wonder if the lawyer went through the four walls of Nigeria Law School.
“Today, the case of the gruesome murder of Miss Anita Akapson, which came up before the FCT High Court makes the heart of a reasonable man bleed, leaving so much to be desired of a legal practitioner.
“Upon arraignment, the defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge and his counsel presented his motion for bail.
“The Prosecution also pretentiously presented his 8-paragraph counter-affidavit with merely 3 substantial paragraphs.
“As of fact, the presiding judge opined that bail was only granted to the defendant because the prosecution’s counsel failed to be diligent in his assignment.
“Considering the very nature of this case being one of the very many cases of Police violation of citizen’s fundamental rights leading to loss of life of a bright young lady, it was expected that the office of the Attorney General as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation would have sprung into action, issue an advice and taken over the matter rather than permit the Police to assist one of their own.
“The experience of today in court is indeed embarrassing, scandalous and leaves much to be desired.
“The act of the Police prosecutor in trying to hide under the cloak of the law, display lack of diligence and incompetence is tantamount to gross misconduct and conduct unbecoming of a legal practitioner which we shall take up before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee.
“I dare say that the system of prosecution in Nigeria needs to be overhauled and reconsidered, particularly the investigative procedures of the Nigerian Police”, he added.